May the Fourth be with each and every one of you! I’ve always wanted to crack that joke legitimately.
I’m on my way to Romania. Or rather, I’m on my way to Luton, where I’ll be staying tonight on my way to Romania. I have that very strong suspicion that I've left something vitally important at home. Passport? Check. Wallet? Check. £7 worth of Romanian currency that my brother dug out of a drawer? Check. All present and correct, Sir, but I guarantee that there'll be something missing.
I feel all sun-kissed and warm. I've been in Kensal Green Cemetery, and, for the umpteenth day on the trot, it's been beautifully sunny. Farmers are now panicking. Their fields are dying. There's a real threat of drought, which I refuse to believe. Do they have hosepipe bans in Texas? Of course they don’t! We just don’t know how to manage rain water in this country... or snow... or sunshine for that matter...
My companion today was the lovely Rebecca, an actress who performed in the Pepys Motet. When she's not acting, she does historical research, so she was the perfect person to have at my side. She's also great fun to be around, and looked like something from Elvira Madigan with all her ABBA-blonde locks glowing like white straw in the sunlight.
We realised today that there is a great deal of humour to be found in Graveyards. It is utterly astounding what people think it’s appropriate to write on graves. There was a lengthy "apology" from one dead person, which rambled on for about ten rhyming couplets-worth of nonsense, which went something along the lines of... “I’m sorry I left so suddenly. You see, I'd been called by God, and he said there wasn't time for me to say goodbye..." As if you'd assume that this was going through your loved-one's head!
But I think it was the naff four-line poems that got me most of all. So many dreadful rhymes, with the verbs contorted and twisted at the end of lines. "For to do" poems, with terrible scantion; the sorts of things you find on Countdown, or on the inside of Clinton Cards. The same poem was often written on countless graves. In one instance, the very same thing was on two graves next to each other. Imagine the horror of choosing a verse in a funeral parlour and finding it on the grave next door. An eternity of the sort of shame I'm told women feel when they turn up to a party in the same dress as someone else!
One corner of the cemetery was Chav-tastic. Now, obviously Barry and Garry were their mother's pride and joy until both were ripped from her in an untimely chavvy accident... But why chose the shot of Gary in a Puma track suit and Barry in a Burberry baseball cap and a gold chain to have etched into their gravestone?
We were also astonished to see one particular gravestone, marking the spot where the father of a well-known character from a well-known English pop group is buried. For the sake of this blog I’ll refer to said “pop star” to as Naffy from M-subz. Now, surely it’s not necessary to sign your father's grave "your son, Dappy... Sorry... Naffy from M-subz?” Like your father would think it was from someone else! How about using your actual name? Or is this just an attempt to show your fans what a caring man you are?
On the tube home from the cemetery, I finally solved a mystery which has been bugging me for some time. A few months ago, I was in Soho, when a man walked past me and into a Sushi cafe. He was startlingly handsome, he had a proud gait, and he was wearing a chalk striped suit, but instead of hair, had a sort of swimmer’s cap made of sparkly sequins. I was incredibly impressed. He’d managed to get away with the look without seeming camp or strange. He reminded me of a modern-day Leigh Bowery. I think about him every time I walk past the Sushi place and often wonder who he was and why he was dressed so arrestingly. Today, I saw a poster which featured a cartoon image of the same man. I discover that his name is Philip Levine, and that’s he’s the self-proclaimed world's first "head artist". He displays art on his head. It's nothing that Philip, George or Leigh Bowery weren't doing in the 1980s, but it IS impressive!
Look, here he is now...
Saturday May 4th, 1661, and Pepys and co. took a coach from Petersfield to Guildford, where they stayed at the Red Lyon, the best Inn in the town, and the place where the King had stayed recently. They did a bit of sightseeing; a hospital and a free school, where they were treated very well by the headmaster, John Graile. Pepys chatted into the night with the waiters and bar staff at his lodgings who were mercilessly taking the mickey out of a local dignitary, which Pepys thought was great fun.